In the spring of 2005, environmental photographer James Balog went to the Arctic on assignment for National Geographic to capture images to help tell the story of the Earth’s changing climate.
Calling his ambitious expedition The Extreme Ice Survey, Balog and his team set up numerous cameras throughout Iceland, Greenland, Alaska and Montana to capture a multi-year time-lapse photo-journal of the receding glaciers.
The footage of the 2013 documentary Chasing Ice was as irrefutable as it was powerful and clear about the effects of global warming—particularly on our north. And it was upsetting.
In a scene that brought me to tears, Balog was showing us how much the Solheim Glacier in Iceland had deflated and receded. Clearly emotional, Balog said: “When I saw that glacier dying, it was all…wow…you know…It’s a glacier that’s been here for around thirty thousand to a hundred thousand years and it’s literally dying in front of my eyes. You’re very aware of the fact that…” he paused, unable to speak for a moment, then continued, “you know, sometime you go over the horizon and you don’t come back.”
Balog was clearly changed in witnessing these dying glaciers. He was himself a climate change skeptic before his project. Balog now speaks around the world to help bring awareness to those who still choose to disbelieve—and sanction doing nothing as everything dies around us.
In a recent TED Talk, Balog reminded us that: “Ninety percent of the glaciers in the world are either shrinking or retreating…because the precipitation patterns and temperature patterns are changing. There is not significant scientific dispute about that. It’s been observed, it’s measured…And the great irony and tragedy of our time is that a lot of the general public thinks that science is still arguing about that. Science is not arguing about that.”
Chasing Ice won many awards, including the 2014 News and Documentary Emmy for Outstanding Nature Programming. It has screened in more than 172 countries and on all 7 continents. It should be watched by every person on the Earth.
Nina Munteanu is a Canadian ecologist / limnologist and novelist. She is co-editor of Europa SF and currently teaches writing courses at George Brown College and the University of Toronto. Visit www.ninamunteanu.ca for the latest on her books. Nina’s bilingual “La natura dell’acqua / The Way of Water” was published by Mincione Edizioni in Rome. Her non-fiction book “Water Is…” by Pixl Press(Vancouver) was selected by Margaret Atwood in the New York Times‘Year in Reading’ and was chosen as the 2017 Summer Read by Water Canada. Her novel “A Diary in the Age of Water” was released by Inanna Publications (Toronto) in June 2020.